Outdoor Living Spaces Color and Design Home Staging Nursery Heritage Lamp Shades Solar Energy Refinishing Basements Resurfacing Driveways

Creating Outdoor Living Spaces

(NAPSI)-Baby boomers are downsizing to smaller homes. Some families are faced with challenging economic times. Eco-conscious living is growing in popularity, generating increased awareness of the carbon footprint of a home. As a result, the average size of an American home has decreased for the first time in more than 30 years.

As the square footage of homes gets smaller, homeowners are discovering that the comforts of home are no longer defined by four walls. They are literally thinking outside the box, expanding their living spaces into the natural environment and creating year-round activity centers in the great outdoors. In fact, a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens magazine revealed that 68 percent of homeowners say that an outdoor grilling and living area is a top priority.

Creating an outdoor sanctuary for reading, dining, relaxing or playing is well within reach of the average homeowner. First of all, outdoor space is generally less expensive for build out than interior space, so it is an economically savvy solution to expanding living space across a wide range of budgets. Also, with the help of a local contractor, a master plan can be developed that is implemented in phases over time.

When selecting products, homeowners should look for those that are low maintenance, good looking and long lasting. CertainTeed Corporation, North America's largest brand of building products, offers a comprehensive suite of high-quality roofing, siding, soffit, trim, railing, decking and fence products that are designed to coordinate beautifully and are backed by the best warranties in the industry. The colors, styles and textures for all these products can be accessed using CertainTeed's ColorView online visualization tool, allowing homeowners to design their porches, decks and yards and then see the results firsthand.

To learn more about products that can make your dream outdoor living space a reality and locate a local contractor, visit www.certainteed.com.


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Colorful Home Decorating Ideas

(NAPSI)-When you're ready for a change, you can have a new home without changing your address. How? With paint. Homeowners looking to change up their decor have found that color trends in home design are deeply rooted in both "then" and "now." The idea of decorating using colors that reflect the new and the old takes shape by showcasing classic, calming neutrals with a few energizing standout colors, such as bright pinks and yellows.

The Colors of "Then"--For those looking to incorporate a more classic feel into their homes, neutrals such as deep gray-brown, muted and warm beiges and asphalt gray-blue are choices that work together to create environments that are calm and organic. Together, they allow for a merging of modern and rustic styles. Creamy whites, serene sea foam blue-green, pale butter and deep bronze-golds with metallic finishes provide a similar feeling, but can create a more refined and romantic space.

The Colors of "Now"--Homeowners interested in giving their spaces a more dramatic pop can join the trend toward incorporating bright, vibrant colors into the home. Profound pinks and rusty oranges can be found playing against off-whites and stony grays to create a space that is sensual, eclectic and worldly. Playful yellows in combination with pure white and sleek black pack a punch and are great for the home decorator who isn't afraid to make a bold statement.

"Frivolous choices are a thing of the past," says Dee Schlotter, paint color expert at The Voice of Color, PPG Pittsburgh Paints. "Today's color trends have staying power. You renew instead of buying new. You choose sustainable colors with an environmental and economic awareness that's becoming second nature for us all."

Whether you want to stick with the classic colors of then, the current colors of now or create your own style, you'll want a high-quality paint brand that offers a variety of color choices. For example, PPG Pittsburgh Paints has nearly 2,000 colors, unique color palettes and yearly color trends.

Learn More

To learn more about the latest colors and trends and to find a nearby paint dealer, visit www.voiceofcolor.com. Download article content

Staging Your House For A Quick Sale

(NAPSI)-"Home staging" is increasingly popular among homeowners seeking to sell their house. Curb appeal, clutter removal and a thorough cleaning are important, but a few extra steps can dramatically improve the appeal of your home to a buyer.

Design and model home expert Janice Jones, who oversees model home design and decorating for Pulte Homes, offers a few tips to help you create an up-to-date new and fresh look that can set your home apart from the competition:

1. Use Color: Adding the right punch of color to accent walls or trim can create depth, enhance kitchen cabinets or bring a boring bathroom to life.

Jones encourages homeowners to find pops of color in accessories, such as throw pillows, coffee-table books and decorative canisters. The key is to experiment and not be afraid to add extras such as exciting wall art or a playful chair or an area rug. Different colors have different effects, Jones says:

• Red is stimulating and encourages self-confidence.

Orange promotes happiness and celebration.

• Yellow is uplifting and light-hearted.

• Blue is calming in softer tones, promotes clarity in deeper ones.

• Green is the color of nature; it feels fresh and rejuvenating.

• Aqua is restful while pink is gentle and sweet-making a great pair.

• Purple tones bring out a sense of compassion.

2. Less Can Be More: When Jones decorates model homes, she takes care not to clutter spaces and aims to keep rooms inviting, comfortable and memorable. This requires appropriate-sized furnishings that allow for maximum seating without crowding.

"Use fewer accessories and try not to overstimulate," she advised. "This makes living spaces appear much larger."

3. Focus on the Home: Homeowners achieve better results by displaying only their most important collectible treasures in a bookcase, a see-through furniture cabinet or open shelving. The focus should be on the house, not the current homeowner's knickknacks.

4. Know the Latest Trends: Design trends have been moving toward simple clean lines, an organic approach and a more relaxed look overall. Flat-screen TVs, laptop computers and other technology have changed the need for heavy, deep pieces.

5. Even Small Changes Reap Rewards: Jones stresses that even a small decorating project can make a significant difference.

"Interior design gives home sellers a great opportunity to make a good first impression," she said. "Simple staging can be livable as well as sellable."

For more home-staging tips from Pulte Homes, visit http://bit.ly/StagingTips.

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Nursery Heritage

(NAPSI)-Decorating a baby nursery is all about new beginnings but also provides a beautiful opportunity to celebrate heritage:

• Family Photos--Delve into family scrapbooks to uncover lost treasures. A homemade collage of black-and-white photos, stamps, flags, pages from passports and even copies of antique marriage certificates can pay homage to your heritage.

• Textiles--Whether it is a rug with Mexican flair, woven baskets inspired by Africa or silk linens from India, subtle touches can help make your nursery one of a kind.

• Color--Paint colors can transform a space. Consider sunny earth tones and sky blues to conjure the warmth of the Mediterranean, vibrant colors of the Caribbean or even a mural to reflect family history.

• Invest in the Future--Choose a nursery set that will grow with your baby. Nursery 101, available in a variety of finishes at www.nursery101.com, includes all the basic necessities and converts from infant to toddler, daybed and even full-sized bed. For more decorating ideas, visit www.lajobi.com.

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Bright Ideas To Light Up Your Life

(NAPSI)-Household lights can dramatically shape the mood and design of your home. According to Thomas O'Brien, interior designer and creator of the Vintage Modern home collection at Target, lighting is a key design element because it is both practical and decorative.

O'Brien recommends that when thinking about lighting, address one space at a time. Additionally, he says there's no "one size fits all" lighting scheme. Just as each room has a distinct purpose, it will also require a specific mix of light, from overhead to table to task to candle and even natural light. O'Brien likes to use lamps at eye level as well as special, individual ceiling and wall fixtures to make a room visually interesting and keep the light focused where it's needed. Soft pools of light throughout a room are more attractive than just one main light source.

In the dining room, create ambience with easy-to-install dimmer switches. Dimmers can tone down a chandelier or sconces with the flick of a switch to produce low, flattering evening light. When choosing an overhead fixture for this space, make sure it's in scale with the rest of the room, keeping the height of the room and the proportions of the table in mind. Add buffet lamps, torchieres and candles to fill in shadowed parts of the room.

Family and living rooms also benefit from a mix of lighting sources such as floor lamps, sconces and table lamps. A tall floor lamp behind a sofa can light one section of the room and also provide light for reading. You can add in smaller reading lamps on side tables for light at different levels. Large, sculptural center lamps on consoles or decorative tables create an easy modern style, while an adjustable-arm task lamp is a functional piece that also adds great style to the room.

Bedrooms require lighting that is functional, flattering and restful. O'Brien recommends flanking the bed with a pair of similarly sized lamps, suitable for reading. The shade of a bedside lamp should be slightly above or at the same height as the reader to avoid glare. You can add atmospheric light with a lamp tucked on top of an armoire. An easy chair can be paired with a stylish floor lamp to create a spot for relaxing and reading. When selecting lamp shades, choose a semiopaque material that directs light toward the reader, not out into the room. Paper shades have a clean, translucent, neutral glow and are brighter than fabric shades.

"There are wonderful lighting options available that mix simple elegance with shape and function," says O'Brien. "Lighting is a product that can be genuinely affordable and authentic at the same time. I'm impressed by Target's terrific range of mix-and-match, budget-friendly lamps and shades."

For more low-cost lighting options, visit www.Target.com.

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Solar Roofing Provides A Ray Of Light For Homeowners' Energy Bills

(NAPSI)-According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 92 percent of the American public agrees that it is important for the nation to develop and use solar energy. Yet, while many homeowners like the idea of greening their homes, few want to sacrifice good curb appeal. Fortunately, with new advancements in solar roofing, homeowners no longer need to choose between an eco-friendly roof and a beautiful home. With the right products, a roof with solar technology can add value to a home and not just by being green.

Because the roof makes up 50 percent of a home's exterior, when homeowners look for a roofing product, curb appeal is often at the top of the list. However, homeowners also have to consider durability, impact resistance and maintenance requirements--making it challenging to keep energy-efficient roofing a priority. While eco-friendly trends are increasing, building manufacturers have improved the sustainability of their products while maintaining aesthetics--so homeowners can have it all.

Solar products now come in different "shades of green," all designed to reduce your home's impact on the environment at varying degrees using evolving technologies such as solar-reflective roofing and photovoltaics. Good news for homeowners is that there are incentives for choosing a product that helps power up a home and reduces the impact on the environment. By installing an Energy Star−rated roofing product, homeowners can earn up to a $1,500 credit on their income taxes.

A prime example of solar-reflective asphalt roofing that keeps your roof cool by deflecting the sun's rays is Landmark Solaris from CertainTeed--a company recently named an Energy Star Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By lowering surface temperatures up to 20 percent, you can give your air conditioner a rest during warm weather. To get this level of performance, homeowners used to be limited to white shingles--which may not match the color palette on the exterior of the home. You can now get deep, rich, dark hues that are more classic and natural than traditional solar shingles.

A shining example of advancements in photovoltaics is EnerGen solar roofing panels. Designed with curb appeal in mind, the system blends in and lies flush to traditional asphalt shingles, generating power for your home using clean, renewable energy.

With the combination of new technologies, incentives, improved performance and aesthetic options that don't sacrifice curb appeal, yes it's clear that solar roofing is here to stay.

For more information on solar roofing, visit www.certainteed.com.


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Tips For Refinishing A Basement Yourself

(NAPSI)-Whether you're looking to add a home office, extra bathroom, more storage space or a second living room to your house, you might start by looking down. Refinishing your basement can be a simple and relatively inexpensive solution to get more out of your living space. Plus, you can do many basement renovation projects yourself. Try these tips:

Plan Ahead

Before you tackle any work, think about how you'll be using your finished basement. If you're going to have an entertainment center--complete with a flat-screen TV, DVD player, video games and music--be sure you have enough outlets to run your devices. Plan for plenty of overhead space if you are including a game room with a pool table, dartboard and minirefrigerator. If your basement will include a home office, you may need a wireless-Internet signal booster to maintain quick surfing speed.

Energy Smart

Basement windows are notorious for letting in plenty of outside air. One solution for cutting energy bills is sealing cracks and gaps with a silicone-based caulk. If splurging on replacement windows isn't in the budget, consider heavy window coverings to help stop airflow. Additionally, put timers on basement lamps to be certain they're turned off when the room is not in use.

Stay Warm and Dry

Water is the No. 1 enemy of finished basements, so make sure to use a waterproofing product such as Platon, available through CertainTeed Corporation, to guard against the moisture that can seep through a home's concrete slab. The durable, easy-to-install dimpled membrane forms an impermeable moisture barrier and air gap, allowing the concrete to breathe while keeping the floor dry. A value-added bonus: Platon keeps the finished floor isolated from the cold, damp concrete, so it becomes room temperature, not slab temperature. This helps keep floors warmer in winter and odor- and condensation-free in summer.

Up To Code

Remember that basements are subject to the same building codes as the rest of a house. Depending on the size of the project, you might even need a building permit to begin work. Be certain to check with building officials before you begin renovations and, if required, bring in an expert to help with certain parts of your project. For more information, visit www.certainteed.com.

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Making Old Concrete Look New

(NAPSI)-While replacing a concrete driveway, sidewalk or patio can be a costly prospect, resurfacing damaged concrete is a cost-effective repair that won't break the bank.

When revitalizing old, worn or spalled concrete, the use of certain patching or repair products, such as Quikrete Concrete Resurfacer, can provide a durable, wear-resistant surface that will last the life of the concrete surface.

Here's How

• First, the concrete must be rigorously cleaned of contaminants (dirt, oil, chipped concrete) to ensure the resurfacer will adhere to the existing concrete. Use a high-strength pressure washer to clean the surface to be resurfaced and saturate the driveway and finish by removing any standing water.

• You'll need to repair any major pits, cracks or spalled areas before applying the resurfacer.

• Remember, it is essential that control joints and expansion joints are maintained, so use weather stripping to prevent the resurfacer from spilling into joints.

• Add the resurfacer powder to the mixing water and use a drill with a paddle extension to mix for about five minutes to a lump-free, pourable consistency. If the mix is too thick, add water as recommended on the bag to reach the desired consistency.

• Pour the resurfacer mixture from the bucket onto the surface.

• Using a long-handled squeegee, spread the resurfacer mixture across the surface.

• For a slip-resistant professional finish, follow within five minutes with a large push broom, making full strokes across the entire distance of the current work area without stopping. If desired, a concrete edging tool can be used within 20 minutes of pouring.

At a 1/16-inch thickness, one 40-pound bag of Quikrete Concrete Resurfacer will cover about 90 square feet.

Wait six hours before allowing foot traffic and 24 hours for automobile traffic onto the new surface, allowing longer curing times for cooler temperatures. Also, be sure to protect the new surface from rain for at least six hours- or longer in cool or damp weather.

Learn More

For additional project ideas and application instructions, log on to www.quikrete.com or call (800) 282-5828.

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